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Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009

DrXym Re: Crackberry is Back (131 comments)

It's not self-evident. There are serious jank problems while scrolling, 10-second latency problems navigating trivial apps like Settings, and nagging battery-drain problems with Android. These are the main problems the platform has.

Utter bollocks. And even if it were true (and it isn't) it does not mean the kernel is to blame so your point would still be bollocks.

Memory use isn't one of the problems: the standard phone went from 0.5GByte to 2GByte RAM a couple years ago without any significant change in app functionality, and the K release used less memory than the J release so general platform bloat is actually going backwards: the stack's memory tax is therefore less than a quarter of the standard platform size and not a big deal for emulation.

Utter bollocks again. Android has increased memory generally so more apps stay resident in memory. The less memory, the more likely it would be to purge apps. In other words it makes use of the memory for stuff.

Performance probably isn't a problem wrt the emulation because the performance problems are not flat-out CPU bound work nor mean-latency problems: doubling the mean latency would not be a big deal because android has such huge tail-latency problems. And doubling mean latency in return for cutting max latency is exactly what hard-realtime kernels like Neutrino are made for. Whether they can do this through the android stack is doubtful because the latency is probably coming from java crappo, but who knows. Anyway it's not self-evident that emulation will cause a memory problem for Android, nor that it will cause a performance/battery problem.

Utter bollocks because it presupposes your other bollocks and makes no sense in any event. The point I was making was that to emulate Android, a Black Berry device has the memory pressure of two runtimes in memory at once (the native one) and the emulated one (plus shims). It obviously impacts on memory and performance.

Emulation and battery-drain problems aren't related because they're caused by poor scheduling, bugs, held "wake locks", etc. Part of the area where bugs can exist will be replaced, so if QNX is higher-quality than Android in this replaced area it will win the battery game.

It's true that a misbehaved app can drain battery but normal drain is caused by the screen, radio and general activity. And in any event it's largely an irrelevance what kernel is underneath because an app can misbehave over any kernel. And modern kernels are wasting CPU / battery unless something above is telling them to.

3 days ago
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Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009

DrXym Re: Crackberry is Back (131 comments)

It's largely a matter of indifference to a handset's performance what kernel is running under a phone handset. Providing the kernel offers functionality required by handsets it could be NT, Linux, BSD or something else. It's the user land and application sitting on top which dictates the user experience and what hardware / battery the device which dictates that. I assume that Blackberry pack a big battery, the smaller screen and some aggressive power saving defaults could extend the life of the device.

It should also be self evident that if a Blackberry device has to load up a substantial chunk of an Android runtime and an emulation layer (in addition to its own services) to run an Android app that it will be neither as performant or memory efficient as a standard Android device. It has two stacks to wrangle and there might be limits on the Android emulation that cause performance issues of its own.

In fact it's hard to see why they bother emulating Android at all when they could just *be* Android. Doesn't stopping them locking it down with Knox, encrypted storage etc. It would save them a hell of a lot of effort in the long run and would broaden the appeal of a device if it actually ran the apps people wanted to use. Emulation and Amazon's store is better than nothing but it's still an extremely poor substitute for the Play store.

3 days ago
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Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

DrXym So worst case scenario (388 comments)

A dozen viable DNS lookup services spring up in the event of a takedown.

5 days ago
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Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

DrXym Re:Riiiiight. (232 comments)

I have no trouble running a Windows 7 desktop for months without a reboot. Typically I'll work all day and sleep it at night. That's a desktop which is hammering resources for most of the day. Some poxy media system is not going to trouble a kernel even assuming the kernel leaked (which I doubt any modern kernel does).

about a week ago
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Google Closing Engineering Office In Russia

DrXym Re:50 engineers (157 comments)

The next thing that will happen is Russia will copy China / Iran and throw a massive firewall around the entire country which blocks sites, restricts VPNs and does its utmost to stop people from hearing what is going on in their own country.

about two weeks ago
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Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

DrXym Re:Riiiiight. (232 comments)

It does sound like an advertising pitch, but this is accurate about QNX. The OS isn't cheap, but it does offer realtime functionality. It also is designed to be quite stable to where a bug or a hang can cause tremendous disasters, be it software with X-ray machine or figuring out what position to move a set of control rods in a reactor. QNX has excellent internal security, and a decent development kit.

The thing is here it's being used for an in-car entertainment system. It doesn't have to be realtime, it doesn't have to require stability beyond what a regular kernel would offer. In fact it shouldn't matter a damn what kernel is powering the system since most of the functionality is going to be sitting in an application layer well above the kernel itself.

I'm not sure what motivated Ford to switch. Maybe QNX uses less memory or is more performant with the chipset they want to use, or is simply cheaper to licence. Or maybe the automotive industry is naturally conservative and comforted by some extra certification QNX offers that Windows doesn't. Whatever the reason, I doubt the end user experience or reliability would be appreciably different whether they had used an NT, Linux, BSD or a QNX kernel - any modern kernel would have served the software well. Whether the application itself is good is an entirely separate matter altogether.

about two weeks ago
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Fedora 21 Released

DrXym Re:dropped that fool and the systemd it rode in on (106 comments)

I'm not saying it's hard but it's still has usability that's all over the place. A done button in the top left, an install in the bottom right, where's cancel? The post install welcome screen puts its buttons in the top right! And it's not clear the tasks are actually clickable since they don't look like things to be clicked on (a slight background might help). Another confusion is the exclamation mark sometimes means "you must do something" and other times "you might do something" e.g. I must set my partition but during installation I don't have to create a user, or rather if I change the root password, the exclamation point disappears from add user task.

It's not insurmountable. It's just a bad first impression.

about two weeks ago
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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

DrXym Re:JPEG2000 replaced JPEG (377 comments)

A bigger roadblock might be that these days, bandwidth (and storage) is cheap, and so savings in image size are less relevant than they used to be.

Bandwidth isn't cheap on mobile data networks. On the other hand, requiring phones to execute battery sapping image decompression in Javascript is hardly a great idea either.

about two weeks ago
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AMD Offers a Performance Boost, Over 20 New Features With Catalyst Omega Drivers

DrXym Re:Remember guys... (73 comments)

NOBODY should want Mantle until it becomes an open standard or something analogous to it appears in the likes of OpenGL. It's great that it offers performance improvements but proprietary APIs still stink. I expect most of the improvements it offers largely boil down to minimize the amount of memory being copied around between CPU and GPU rather than anything inherent to the chipset.

about two weeks ago
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Fedora 21 Released

DrXym Re:dropped that fool and the systemd it rode in on (106 comments)

I hate the Fedora installer. I can see what its trying to do but the usability is all over the place. It's not a wizard, the buttons are in unconventional positions, and oftentimes it is unclear whether you have applied things or not because there is a substantial delay between doing something and it reflecting in the UI.

Once its installed and running it's fine though.

about two weeks ago
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Google Releases Android Studio 1.0, the First Stable Version of Its IDE

DrXym My experiences of Android Studio (115 comments)

I've used Eclipse extensively and I've used Android Studio extensively. So far I have mixed impressions of Android Studio.

In its favour the Android integration is far better - obviously. Android Studio provides all of the tools out of the box to build an Android app from end to end which includes all the packaging and signing at the end. In Eclipse you can can develop and debug easily enough but if you want an apk you have to manually invoke a dialog to package and sign APK. This is a huge pain.

Note that AS doesn't actually build anything. Everything is farmed out to a gradle script. This means you can build from AS, or the command line or even from Jenkins from the same script. This is very useful and you can your own custom tasks, unit tests and other goodness to your scripts. But... gradle is goddamned slow. As in REALLY slow. Even if you configure it spawn a daemon so it doesn't respawn all the time (yes I've done that) it's still slow. The problem is if you change a Java class it still has to run through every task checking the dependencies to see what needs to be built and it takes too damned long.

Eclipse is extremely good at incremental building so you can make a change and hit run and in seconds you're debugging. Eclipse is also superior for marking code in error - AS only tends to know about errors local to the file, e.g. syntax errors. If you call a method in another class and get the params wrong you might only be told when gradle reports an error. In Eclipse it would have told you instantly which means turnaround is so much faster. I also prefer the Java editor in Eclipse, because it knows more about your project as a whole, the code completion and hints are more immediate and useful. I'm also used to the keybindings but AS has some Eclipse keybindings so that doesn't matter too much.

Android Studio does have some excellent code analysis tools. It has Android lint integrated into the build and there are a pile of things it can search for in addition to that and in many cases will offer automatic solutions. It also has nicely integrated view and fragment editors which work better than the ones in Eclipse.

AS is a terrible CPU hog. I've noticed it eating anywhere between 5-30% of the CPU depending on what panes are open. This is a serious problem on a laptop because the fan starts whirring and the battery life suffers. The command prompt pane is the worst of all and I only assume it's killing the CPU by continuously polling. Source code integration is also inferior to Eclipse - EGit is a wonderfully mature plugin these days with some complex and useful functionality - the support for Git in AS seems quite perfunctory by comparison although it covers the basics.

So to summarise pros for AS:

  1. End to end builds for Android apps
  2. More integration for Android tools
  3. Excellent code analysis
  4. External build system making it easier to do custom tasks and automated builds.

And the cons:

  1. Gradle really sucks for iterative development and slows things down. It's also a massive learning curve.
  2. AS is a CPU hog
  3. Source control integration is weaker
  4. If you have a mixed development environment (e.g. client and server side components) or multiple targets then an Android-centric IDE might not be so good as Eclipse.

about two weeks ago
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Uber Banned In Delhi After Taxi Driver Accused of Rape

DrXym Re:Sadly,... (180 comments)

Because it's not like anyone's ever been raped by a 'licensed and regulated' taxi driver.

Well that's genius logic. Your link demonstrates the need for an even higher standard for background checks and a zero tolerance for drivers with convictions that could be a threat to the public. In this instance it would suggest that the decision should not have been entrusted to the council in the first place - they should be responsible for the paperwork but the police should ensure the driver is of good character and their say should be final.

It also does NOT suggest that we should loosen or do away background checks altogether so that any psychopath, even those with previous convictions, can lure women into their vehicles.

I'd add that if you were to search for high number of court cases involving unlicensed cab drivers (i.e. those illegally operating taxis), that it demonstrates why checks are so necessary in the first place. Not just on the driver, but also the state of the vehicle they are driving in to ensure it is roadworthy and insured.

Further, I'd note that there is no reason that Uber cannot operate within the law. They can require their drivers hold a taxi licence and be in good standing. They just choose not to because interferes with their profits.

about two weeks ago
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Man Caught Trying To Sell Plans For New Aircraft Carrier

DrXym Re:Entrapping idiot with dubious plot (388 comments)

I was watching an episode of the BBC drama series "Colditz" the other day. One of the POWs attempted to bribe a German guard who needed a lot of money (his girlfriend needed an abortion). Rather than take the bribe he reported it and the chief security officer rewarded him with 2 weeks leave and a posting to somewhere closer to his family. Smart when you think about it - you want to encourage people to report events that could compromise security, not make them fear that they'll be punished.

The TV series is fascinating viewing especially from a security perspective since its informed by real events and contains many parallels for modern day security practices.

about two weeks ago
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Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights

DrXym Re:Solar Lanterns already available (143 comments)

Maybe they did it to justify the West dumping all the broken electronics onto a barge and sailing it to India where it becomes somebody else's problem.

about two weeks ago
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Google Hopes To One Day Replace Gmail With Inbox

DrXym Google being Google (239 comments)

Google's problem is they're so big that they'll completely screw over their own projects if they don't align with the corporate roadmap. Look at the likes of iGoogle and Google Reader. Both products were popular but I'm sure some genius in Mountain View decided to shitcan them because they "competed" with Google+.

Now I can't say for sure how many people did move to G+. What I can absolutely say is that I'm not one of them. I used to use iGoogle and now I use My Yahoo. So instead of enjoying whatever metrics they used to gather from me and ads they now get nothing. Google+ is what it is and occasionally I look at it, but presently Google offer nothing which could be called a homepage and so I take my eyeballs elsewhere.

I have no idea what InBox is but the way it's being talked up would make me incredibly fearful of what could befall GMail. GMail is popular because it is online email with a nice GUI - nothing more, nothing less. It they replace it with some bullshit "stream", or a "network", or "social experience", or some glorified "wall", then they can fuck the hell straight off. Put that shit over in G+ where it belongs and don't even think of integrating or replacing GMail with it.

about three weeks ago
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

DrXym Re:My main complaint about the Pro 2 (101 comments)

The high DPI manifest entry and APIs only turned up with Windows 8. It's hardly surprising that legacy applications don't support it or make declarations in their manifest to that effect. Even applications which are in active development might be using legacy APIs or DLLs that make it a non-trivial problem to solve.

It's not confined to Windows either, Linux and OS X suffer from similar problems.

about three weeks ago
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

DrXym Re:I have a Lenovo Miix 2 (101 comments)

It weighs more, you can't leave the keyboard behind making it very heavy and large for a table.

Yes you can. You just lift the tablet out of the stand and walk off with it. The stand itself does a little heft to it because it has to counteract the high centre of gravity of the tablet. Microsoft's solution is kickstand which significantly increases the footprint the thing needs to stand on. Oh and no keyboard for you unless you fork out a small fortune to buy it as an accessory.

And it completely lacks a digitiser: so no handwritten note taking, drawing etc etc.

I doubt that holding a 12" tablet to take notes is an ideal use though I concede it doesn't have an active stylus. You could of course just buy a "dumb" stylus for a dollar and install one note all the same. Or use the keyboard. The one you get included with it.

But yeah, apart from all of that it's exactly the same ^^

Who said it was exactly the same?

about three weeks ago
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

DrXym Re:My main complaint about the Pro 2 (101 comments)

I find it annoying too. Windows (and OS X and Linux) has long been used with low dpi screens so software can look really awful with a high DPI. All the menus, buttons, and toolbars are teeny tiny. So there is now a high DPI aware flag that software is supposed to use to declare it's conformance with new APIs.

Problem is some software proclaims itself high DPI aware but still doesn't look right - Google Chrome in particular has fiddly little buttons. If software doesn't say it's aware then by default Windows will scale the window but then you get a somewhat blurry upscaled window. It's possible to change the scaling and to disable it entirely from shortcut properties but it's clear that desktop operating systems still have some way to go to get things right.

about three weeks ago
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

DrXym I have a Lenovo Miix 2 (101 comments)

It's like a Surface Pro 3 but cheaper and the price includes a keyboard / mouse / port replicator / speaker / stand to sit the tablet in. I find it very useful for holidays / travel etc. because it's a PC when I want it to be and a tablet when I need something simpler.

about three weeks ago
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A Rift In OnePlus, Cyanogen Relationship

DrXym Re:I decided against this phone AFTER pre-ordering (69 comments)

I preordered a OnePlus during the 1-hour, no 2-hour, no 8-hour sale where their systems collapsed under the load. I wasn't even sure if my preorder had been successful or not because I didn't get an acknowledgement until the day after. The whole thing was a clusterfuck of epic proportions. I was also told ETA 6 weeks but this dropped to 2 and suddenly the package was with me with no dispatch notification. So their IT and general customer interaction are seriously bad.

But the phone itself is excellent. It's easily comparable to a Galaxy Note and I have to remind myself it only cost half the price. I got a 64GB phone for £279. Build quality is excellent, the screen is bright and high DPI, the battery life is very good and it has a very good software experience thanks to Cyanogenmod. My biggest gripe is the charging cable (which looks very spiffy) is too short and the connector is upside down compared to other phones. Firefox also doesn't appear to be able to play hardware accelerated h264 properly for some reason which I assume is a fault in the software since no other app has the problem. Otherwise it's a great device.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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GNOME Shell extensions are live

DrXym DrXym writes  |  about 3 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "GNOME Shell has been criticized for certain shortcomings when compared to GNOME 2.x. Chief amongst them was that 2.x offered panel applets whereas 3.x is seemingly lacking any such functionality. What most people don't know is that GNOME Shell has a rich extension framework similar to Mozilla Firefox add-ons and the official site to install extensions has gone live. So if you yearn for an application menu, or a dock, or a status monitor then head on over. Extensions can be installed with a few clicks and removed just as easily.

Someone should offer a prize to the first extension that implements Unity and global menus over GNOME Shell. Perhaps it would convince Ubuntu to switch over and end this spat once and for all."

Link to Original Source
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Warner going Blu Ray exclusive

DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 6 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "Engadget are reporting that Warner is going to go Blu-Ray exclusive. Even though I am a Blu-Ray supporter myself this announcement is shocking since it could easily have gone the other way. It drives a stake into the heart of the HD DVD camp and might mean at last that an end is in sight for HD physical format war."
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SCO stock takes a dump

DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 7 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "The SCO ball of twine keeps unravelling. Following the total disintegration of their legal case on Friday, SCO's stock took a pounding today falling a whopping 70%. That puts SCOX well and truly into NASDAQ delisting territory, assuming they last the 120 days required to be removed. So long SCO, we hardly knew ye."
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DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 8 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "Remember that stuff about the PS3 supporting Linux? Well it's true as as this press release from Yellow Dog Linux shows. PS3 owners will be able to install Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 which includes standard Linux apps such as Firefox 1.5.0, OpenOffice 2.0 as standard. Interestingly it also includes a Cell SDK and Enlightenment E17 for the desktop experience. What remains to be seen is whether it plays nice alongside your ability to play games, download stuff, watch movies etc. or is it an all or nothing affair?"

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